The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program is funding 10-year awards for farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs at five universities.
The funding, offered through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will go to a host institution in each of the program's four regions: The University of Minnesota (North Central SARE Regional Host Institution), University of Vermont (Northeast), University of Georgia (Southern) and Montana State University (Western).
An additional award will be made to the University of Maryland to support the National Reporting, Coordinating and Communications Office.
“This investment in sustainable agriculture underscores USDA’s ongoing commitment to transforming our food and agricultural systems,” Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA's chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics, said in a statement. The investment, she added, will allow SARE to “continue to provide competitive grants and education programs that foster farmer-driven innovation to promote climate-smart practices, make sustainable producers more profitable, and improve local economies and the quality of life in rural communities.”
The projects will support producers with pest and weed management, cover crops, high tunnel and session extension and crop rotations. Local and regional food system development, pollinator health, marketing and a wide range of other topics are also included in the funding.
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Each host institution is receiving $11.2 million; the University of Maryland's project is funded at $1.6 million.
SARE was established in 1988 and authorized in the 1990 farm bill to fund farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs that develop climate-smart solutions for farms and ranches. Each of the four regions is guided by an administrative council of farmers and ranchers in addition to university, government, agribusiness and nonprofit organization representatives.
Over the last 35 years, USDA says SARE has distributed $380 million in grant funding for nearly 8,400 projects serving farmers, growers and rural communities.
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